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Distinguished Education Doctoral Alumni Recognized

LaFetra College of Education announced its inaugural Distinguished Education Doctoral  Alumni, including longtime education leaders and community changemakers from Los Angeles, Corona and the Coachella Valley. 

Honorees include Amanuel Gebru ‘10, president of Los Angeles City College; Sam Buenrostro ‘12, superintendent for the Corona-Norco Unified School District; and Kelly May-Vollmar ‘17, superintendent of the Desert Sands Unified School District in La Quinta. 

Distinguished awards are presented to individuals in recognition of their extraordinary achievement, outstanding character and exemplary service to the university and community.  Honorees were recognized earlier this month during a cohort community event. 

“We have a rich tradition of preparing and developing successful and innovative educational leaders for the region and beyond. And these recipients are a testament to the outstanding quality leaders we had a role in preparing,” said Eric Bishop, EdD ‘18, chair of the LaFetra College of Education Doctor of Organizational Leadership program and interim vice president of enrollment management for the University of La Verne. “We are proud of these individuals, who are transforming the communities they serve and contributing to the mentorship and training of the next generation of educational leaders through partnership with their alma mater.” 

This year’s recipients are: 

Amanuel Gebru, Ed.D. ’10 

  Amanuel Gebru, Ed.D., was appointed president of the Los Angeles City College District (LACCD) in 2023. With a career dedicated to ensuring access to higher education in historically marginalized communities, Gebru is committed to advocating for educational equity. He is a first-generation college student and immigrant focused on equitable student outcomes, mentoring and academic excellence.  

Prior, Gebru served as vice president of Instruction and Student Services and chief student services officer at Moorpark College, where he took a principal leadership role in positioning Moorpark College as a 2023 Aspen College Prize finalist and led a robust, campus-wide faculty professional development program. He also worked in the TRIO programs at LA Southwest and LA Valley Colleges and as an adjunct instructor at several LACCD colleges. Gebru is a recognized leader and convener on African American male student success as the president of the African American Male Educational Network and Development (A2MEND). He holds a doctorate in education with an emphasis in organizational leadership from the University of La Verne, master’s degree in counseling, and bachelor’s degree in communication studies, both from CSU Long Beach.  


Sam Buenrostro, Ed.D. ‘12 

Sam BuenrostroSam Buenrostro, Ed.D., is the Corona-Norco Unified School District (CNUSD) superintendent. Buenrostro places high importance on community service and is passionate about living life with a purpose, the power of people, and inspiring others to make a difference. Before being appointed superintendent in 2020, he held numerous roles over the past 24 years in CNUSD, including deputy superintendent in Human Resources and Instructional Support. He was assistant principal and principal of Centennial High School for 12 years. During his tenure, Centennial High School received numerous accolades, including CIF Championships, Riverside County Model of Excellence awards, National PLC School distinction, named one of America’s Best High Schools, and a California Golden Bell Award. He was named the 2009 CNUSD and Riverside County Principal of the Year.  In 2016 he was named ACSA Region 19 Human Resources Administrator of the Year and in 2023 CALSA Superintendent of the Year.  

He serves on several community boards and associations, including the University of La Verne Alumni Association, Corona Chamber of Commerce, Corona History Association, Circle City Kiwanis, Rotary International, Lions Club International, and Boy Scouts of America.  Buenrostro holds a doctorate in education with an emphasis in organizational leadership from the University of La Verne, master’s degree from Cal State San Bernardino, and bachelor’s degree from Chapman University. 

Kelly May-Vollmar, Ed.D. ‘17 

May-VollmarLongtime Desert Sands educator, Kelly May-Vollmar, Ed.D., began serving as the superintendent for the Desert Sands Unified School District in 2022. May-Vollmar had served as assistant superintendent of educational and technology services in Desert Sands since 2019. Over the past 18 years, she has served in various roles, including elementary school principal, academic coach and IB coordinator, and classroom teacher. 

  May-Vollmar has received numerous local, state, and national awards. In 2019, she was recognized as the Association of California School Administrator (ACSA) Technology Administrator of the Year for being instrumental in the district’s innovative LTE network build project, which provided equitable broadband connectivity to students throughout the district’s 752 square-mile attendance zone. May-Vollmar is actively involved in several professional organizations including serving on the board of directors for the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN). She received her doctorate in education with an emphasis in organizational leadership in 2018 from the University of La Verne, and a master’s degree in teaching degree from Chapman University, where she also earned her undergraduate degree.